Below is a commentary about attorney general, monarchist, theocrat, and Trump’s personal public relations guy William Barr (seen in the header attempting to cast a sleep spell on Judiciary Committee Democrats) written by an old schoolmate that was published in The Florida Flambeau’s November 18, 1991 edition on the occasion of Barr’s confirmation hearing. (Pg. 4.) Flambeau indeed! 🔥
What William Barr isn’t telling his questioners
by Jimmy Lohman
I admit it: I have a personal ax to grind with Billy Barr, who is poised to be the next attorney general of the United States. I had the misfortune of knowing the AG dude pretty well (a lot better than I wanted to) in junior high, high school and college.
Billy was my very own high school tormentor. He was a classic bully. I met Billy when I was in seventh grade. Billy was a porky ninth grader who had a vicious fixation on my little Jewish “commie” ass. Billy and another ugly mean porker friend of his lived to make me miserable. Combined, they weighed a good three times what I weighed and they put the crunch on me every chance they got. I would give anything to meet Barr ”behind the gym” right now.
There was something about me that used to set Barr and his hideous sidekick off. I know the peace and civil rights buttons I wore drove these guys wacko. It was from 1963 to 1967 that I dodged these creeps: years of major polarization in this country.
Our school, which covered grades seven through 12, cranked out its fair share of ideologues and phrasemongers. On “the left,” the school boasts Kerouac, who did an aberrant preppy stint there, William Carlos Williams, Robert Heilbrohner, Anthony Lewis and George Herman, among others. Barr was more in the tradition of Ray(sic) Cohn, another illustrious alumnus who, like Barr, made a career of “hunting commies” and trampling the rights of those unfortunate enough to be in his path to the top.
There were four “Barr brothers” in school with us, all known for their right-wing views. In around 1964 or ’65, they picketed the “Junior Carnival,” the big social/fundraiser event of the year, because the proceeds were going to the NAACP. The older brother was a senior when I was in eighth grade and I got to know him a little bit through the International Club. After graduation he went to Columbia University, and withdrew shortly thereafter to enlist in the Navy. To his credit, he was one of the very few Ivy Leaguers, at a time when students received draft deferments, to enlist. Unfortunately he enlisted for a misguided and corrupt war.
Billy was the second oldest and the most fanatic rightist of the Brothers. The third brother, Hilary, was in my class. Hilary spearheaded Students for Goldwater in ’64, but by the time we graduated high school and both went to Columbia in 1969, he figured out he was not a fascist and strayed from the Barr philosophy. He emigrated to Germany in the mid-1970s and has lived there for more than 15 years.
It must have been around this time that Billy started developing a soft spot in his “law and order” heart for white-collar criminals. Bill’s father was the principal of a snooty little “East side” private school that was wracked with a scandal involving alleged kickbacks in return for favorable college recommendations. As with most scandals, it went away, and the elder Barr moved on to be principal of another private school.
Billy went to Columbia two years ahead of me and by the time I got there he was well established as one of the leading campus “pukes” who teamed up with the New York City riot police to attack antiwar protesters and “long hairs.” I’ve had a chance to catch some of Barr’s confirmation hearings on C-SPAN. Imagine the dismay: even the Democrats are gushing over Billy Boy, commending his candor, as if it is to=o someone’s credit merely to admit “I am a slimeball.”
It is nauseating enough watching Strom Thurmond feed my old nemesis ludicrous set-up questions. But the Democrats! They should be ashamed of themselves for acting like one serious confirmation process per generation is enough “advice and consent” to fulfill their constitutional duties. There are a lot of questions Barr has yet to answer convincingly: why did he try to squelch the Justice Department’s investigation of the BCCI scandal? Does it have anything to do with the fact that his 250-lawyer former law firm represents one of the defendants? Does Barr’s passion for “law and order” depend on the race and social standing of the alleged law breaker? Why did he find it necessary to file a government brief on behalf of Operation Rescue, another group of law violators who disrupt abortion clinics and harass clinic patients?
Teddy Kennedy threw this last question at Barr, who responded with “an example” of his professed ability to see all sides.
“When I was a student at Columbia University,” Barr told Teddy and the committee, “student protesters blocked the entrance to class buildings and obstructed my constitutional right to go to class. I know what it is like.”
Barr, meanwhile, had already expressed with “refreshing candor” (per Chairman Biden) his view that the Constitution does not provide a right to abortion, notwithstanding Roe v. Wade, which, the last time I looked, is the law of the land. Of course, the Constitution certainly does not provide a right to go to college, and Lord knows, if there was ever an effort to establish such a right, Bush, Barr and Company would do everything imaginable in opposition.
This type of hypocritical and cynical double talk about constitutional rights is an affront to the Constitution. Barr hates the Constitution, unless it is being used to shield millionaire defendants. He and David Duke are two of a kind: wolves in sheep’s clothing. I don’t see what is so “refreshingly candid” about wearing a three-piece suit over a brown shirt. In fact, it is all the more insidious.
I guess there is a little Anita Hill in all of us–especially those who have been victimized by a power abuser who is on the verge of acquiring an ungodly amount of power. I’ll tell you– it is a terrifying proposition.
Barr was a sick and sadistic kid. He’s come a long way from terrorizing seventh graders just because they wore racially equality buttons. Now he gets in front of cameras and says things like “I am committed to the aggressive protection of civil rights and a Justice Department under my leadership will not tolerate discrimination.” Instead of jumping in with riot–clad cops to “beat heads” of protesters, Barr is now holding up charts of blown-up airplanes for the cameras, Setting the stage for an attack on Libya, a strong and predictable antidote for Bush’s plummeting approval ratings.
Barr is now virtually certain to be confirmed. He passed out of committee unanimously with nary a dissent from the listless Democrats, a pathetic array of burn-outs who are so many light-years from reality that they find the slightest hint of “candor” grounds for sainthood. One has to wonder how we have gotten to the point where confirmation is assured merely if a nominee gives an occasional answer that is not evasive. (Of course, even if all answers are evasive, a majority of the Senate is satisfied. Just ask uncle Clarence.)
The Democrats are cheering because the Bush administration has given them an attorney general who will “talk to” them. This looks like a step forward from the Thornburg and Meese models, the wimps are claiming. Look closer, white boys.
Barr joined the CIA when Bush was director. He has slithered up through the ranks, a loyal pet of current White House counsel C. Boyden Gray, stroking where needed, backing off where needed, being “candid” where needed.
While Meese was ordering California cops to bust heads at Berkeley, Barr was busting ‘em alongside the cops at Columbia. It’s just the same old sour wine in a new bottle. Check it out.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Lohman is a civil rights and criminal defense attorney who has lived in Tallahassee since 1974